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Scattershots (Feb. 12, 2020)

NYS Big Buck Club scoring deer, bear at Cabela’s

If you have a big deer rack or a bear skull to score, take it to Cabela’s at 2003 Walden Ave., Cheektowaga, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m on Feb. 22. Kevin Schilling of Lancaster, Steve Mason of Lawtons and Jeff Wetzel of Lockport with the New York State Big Buck Club will be on hand to score the trophy, whether you took it last year or a long time ago. A measurer from Pope and Young, Boone and Crockett and the Longhunters Society also will be in attendance.

Formed by Bob Estes in March 1972, the New York State Big Buck Club compiles measurements of bucks and bears shot in the Empire State. There are categories for gun deer (typical and nontypical), bow deer (typical and nontypical), muzzleloader (typical and nontypical) and crossbow (typical and nontypical). There also is a category for bear skulls, deer found dead/hit by car and shed antlers. There is no charge for scoring an animal, but it costs $20 to enter it into the record book if it makes the minimum score requirement. For more information, call Schilling at 474-2485.

Tree, shrub seedlings now available

If you are looking for trees and shrubs to plant this spring, the Erie County Soil and Water Conservation District is holding its 2020 Conservation Tree and Shrub Seedling Sale. Thirty-eight species of trees and shrubs are available.

The district also is offering wildflower seed mixes, and seedling packs, which have combinations of trees and shrubs chosen to attract, feed and shelter birds, butterflies and other wildlife. Landowners can practice conservation by planting seedlings and wildflowers to provide wildlife food and habitat, shelter crops and landscape, reduce heating/cooling expenses, protect water quality, reduce air pollution and stabilize erodible land. Seedlings are an inexpensive alternative for replacing trees that have been damaged or lost.

Order forms are available at the District office at 50 Commerce Way, East Aurora, by calling 652-8480 Ext. 5, or by printing the order form from the district website at Orders are due by March 13 and pickup will be on April 25 at the Hamburg Fairgrounds.

Oneida Lake walleye population hits 1 million

There are a million reasons to go walleye fishing in Oneida Lake. At least, that’s what researchers with Cornell University say. Adult walleye numbers in the lake hit the 1 million mark in 2019, the highest they’ve seen since population levels from the 1980s. Researchers have been tracking walleye numbers for more than 60 years and things are looking excellent as we move into the future.

Last year, walleye fishermen took advantage of the overall numbers by catching these popular fish at a rate of .5 fish an hour. Researchers are predicting that walleye fishing in the lake should remain excellent with another strong year class ready to recruit into the fishery in 2020.

WHI tourney announces changes

Like the constantly changing Lake Ontario fishery, the Wilson Harbor Invitational tournament, set for May 16, is adapting through change as well. The contest is a challenging test for one day. Bring your six-best salmon (chinook or coho) and see who scores the highest based on 10 points per fish and one point per pound. The basic concept is the same. However, here is what’s been put on the table for the 2020 competition.

Observers no longer are required for teams, but polygraph testing will return. The rod limit is being increased from 6 to 8 rods and the Canadian border is again open for the contest. Remember that the regulations are slightly different in the lake in Canadian waters, such as rod limits. The tournament is limited to 50 boats and the entry fee is $1,000. Canadian money is accepted at par to help offset travel costs and the increased costs of docking and accommodations to encourage international participation. For more information, visit

New in 2020 is a Trout and Salmon Slam from May 9-15. Weigh in your best seven trout and salmon over seven days. Five is the maximum number of salmon that can be weighed in; only two can be trout. Steelhead, brown trout and lake trout are eligible. Cost is $300 per boat. There also is a $1,000 per day contest for the biggest salmon from May 9-15. Cost is $125 per boat (free with team entry fee for the WHI).

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